Fifteen years after the collapse of the US investment bank Lehman Brothers triggered a devastating global financial crisis, the banking system is in trouble again. Central bankers and financial regulators each seem to bear some of the blame for the recent tumult, but there is significant disagreement over how much – and what, if anything, can be done to avoid a deeper crisis.
NEW YORK – In almost every part of the world, long-festering problems can be solved through closer cooperation among neighboring countries. The European Union provides the best model for how neighbors that have long fought each other can come together for mutual benefit. Ironically, today’s decline in American global power may lead to more effective regional cooperation.
This may seem an odd time to praise the EU, given the economic crises in Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Ireland. Europe has not solved the problem of balancing the interests of strong economies in the North and those of weaker economies in the South. Still, the EU’s accomplishments vastly outweigh its current difficulties.
The EU has created a zone of peace where once there was relentless war. It has provided the institutional framework for reuniting Western and Eastern Europe. It has fostered regional-scale infrastructure. The single market has been crucial to making Europe one of the most prosperous places on the planet. And the EU has been a global leader on environmental sustainability.
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